While Peter Capaldi has technically already made his debut as the Twelfth Doctor, for many fans the transition from Matt Smith to Capaldi isn’t entirely finished yet. That is set to change in just under a month, as Deep Breath will be airing (officially) on our television screens for the first time. This a crucial time for many Whovians; Whovians who became part of the fandom thanks to Smith’s and Moffat’s work over the last couple of years.
The transition can be rather jarring, as the change is one of the most drastic in Doctor Who’s storied history. Lucky for you, dear reader, we’re here to help you make the transition as easily as possible, with some tips and insights from those who’ve experienced this kind of thing before.
Grieve and Move On
Ok, I said it and now it’s out there for all of you to read it (and I’m talking to myself as much as anyone else!). The time has come to let Matt go. Sure, for many fans and plenty of my fellow Americans, Matt Smith was THE Doctor, the first face this face saw and all of that stuff. His run was magnificent and it’s sad to see him go on to different endeavors, but that’s what Doctors do and it’s what the show needs to continually “regenerate” and keep itself new. Baker left, Tennant left, and now Smith has left. It happens. So raise one last bowl of fish fingers and custard in memoriam, and say goodbye. After all, it’s not forever. Smith will be back for multi-doctor stories down the road and you can revisit all the previous adventures he was a part of during his reign.
Don’t Expect Capaldi to be the Same Kind of Doctor
The single biggest mistake you can make is going into Series 8 under the impression that Capaldi is going to be Matt Smith, only older and Scottish. Moffat has been telling us since the moment that Capaldi was announced as Smith’s successor to expect the unexpected; that it’s time for the old beast to snarl at you a bit. That’s a good thing! While Smith was different from Tennant in many ways, the dashing, young Doctor motif and all the romance that accompanied it was fairly consistent in both 10 and 11’s time.
You don’t take Capaldi to the cinemas around the world unless you’re sure that you’re sitting on a magnificent episode
This isn’t to say that Capaldi won’t ever have a romantic moment or two (it would be great to see how River Song gets on with Capaldi’s Doctor…just saying!), but the day where you believe the Doctor and his companion might hook up are over for now. First of all, because we’ve seen enough of that for the time being. Secondly, because this Doctor is going to be more alien than the humanistic Tennant and Smith Doctors and it doesn’t fit that role very well. But do expect moments of humour along the way. The Doctor has always, whether darker or at the other end of the spectrum, been a bit funny.
From all accounts, that’s not going to change.
Watch the Whole of Series 8!
The second biggest mistake you can make is to watch Deep Breath next month and decide that you don’t like Capaldi as the Doctor and quit watching the series altogether. While most post regeneration episodes become classics (Tom Baker’s Robot or Matt Smith’s The Eleventh Hour, for example), sometimes the new Doctor stumbles out of the gate a bit (Colin Baker’s Doctor choking Peri, anyone?). Granted, there is no reason to expect any missteps. Moffat has a proven record and you don’t take Capaldi to the cinemas around the world unless you’re sure that you’re sitting on a magnificent episode. The point, though, is that even with a terrific opener there is still the opportunity for lingering doubt. While we all collectively go through our “Rose in The Christmas Invasion” phase, there will come a point for each of us (and probably not at the same time or episode) where we smack our heads and say, “Of course, Capaldi’s the Doctor!”
Because there is no guarantee that will happen during Deep Breath, you’d be doing yourself a great disservice by not seeing the debut series in its entirety before making your final opinion of Capaldi. His Doctor will evolve from his first scene in the series opener through the two-part finale in November. Unless you hang on for the whole ride, you’ll never truly get the sense of who the Capaldi Doctor is. Like Eccleston, Tennant, Smith, and all the classics before them, Capaldi deserves the chance to win you over. The Doctor almost always does in the end.
In the end it really all comes back down to you. All of the effort and craftsmanship that Moffat, Capaldi, and the rest of the crew have put forth is for you. The best advice we can give you is to receive it and be open. It’s still Doctor Who, just maybe not the Doctor you’ve been expecting.